A Stitch In Time

Before Rachel was born, I spent many hours enjoying cross-stitches. It was a long wait of four years before God delivered the bundle of joy to us. The pressures had me stressed, it was the little stitching that gave me the relaxation. It was the concentration in stitching that all the cares and anxieties seemed to be gone.

Cross-stitching is also one of the sources of some of my most favourite memories, especially with my mother while in Singapore. I made a lot for other people as presents during that time. The few pictures here are only the few I kept for my self.

 

The cushion was specially for Rachel with her name and her birth date stitched on it and the Bible Verse from Pslams 139:14 – I will praise thee, for I am wonderfully made. This cushion is special in my life. I stitched it while staying in Singapore General Hospital with threatened miscarriage. Indeed, Rachel is special.

 

The picture of the “Little Match Girl” also stitched in 1989/1990 still hangs in my living room. The “Mandarin Ducks” is kept in my living room. The Lord’s Prayer is in my bedroom. And the bookmarks are always my companion…

 

I wonder whether my friends still keep those cross-stitch pictures that I gave them as gifts …. I know the Last Supper that my mother liked so much is still hanging in my second brother’s home … Where is my “Home is where the heart is” ?

 

Chris has just taken a peep at what I have stitched for Rachel and said, “Please stitch one for me.”

 

Look like I am going to take up cross-stitch sometime soon! I can start with the bookmarks!

Any Order?

New Year Day with Morrie

My late mother spent the most number of years with my second brother in Sibu. So, it is natural that brothers and sisters visited my second brother’s home most often. In recent years, my younger sister, my second sister and me (all the siblings who are in Sibu. Remember? My mother raise up nine children.) make it a point that we shall meet in second brother’s home during Chinese New Year.

This afternoon, the four families met and had a great time. My second brother has four children, aged between 27-17. My second elder sister has three daughters, aged between 22-16. My youngest sister has four children, aged between 13-6. Together with Rachel and Chris and our significant other, it’s quite a huge crowd. The children below 13 and below all crowded in the “IT” room either with internet or PS2.

It was a great time. We talked about our late mother, of how good she was as a mother, mother-in-law and grandmother. It made me wonder tonight whether we ever said all the good about her while she was alive.

I “re-visited” Tuesdays with Morrie this evening and learnt something new. Or rather this part of the book (below) caught me and gave me some new insights. You may not like it because it’s new year, and nobody talks of “funeral” on New Year. If you do not wish to be affected by what follows, stop here please –

Lifted from the book, “Tuesdays with Morrie” –

The New Year came and went. Although he never said it to anyone. Morrie knew this would be the last year of his life. He was using a wheelchair now, and he was fighting time to say all the things he wanted to say to all the people he loved. When a colleague at Brandeis died suddently of a heart attack, Morrie went to his funeral. He came home depressed.

“What a waste,” he said. “All those people saying all those wonderful things, and Irv never got to hear any of it.”

Morrie had a better idea. He made some calls. He chose a date. And on a cold Sunday afternoon, he was joined in his home by a small group of friends and family for a “living funeral.” Each of them spoke and paid tribute to my old professor. Some cried. Some laughed. One woman read a poem:

:My dear and loving cousin …
Your ageless heart
As you move through time, layer on layer,
Tender sequoia….”

Morrie cried and laughed with them. And all the heartfelt things we never get to say to those we love, Morrie said that day. His “living funeral” was a rousing success.

Only Morrie wasn’t dead yet.

We still have three more days of visiting, perhaps say some heartfelt things to friends?

Missing From the Reunion Dinner Table

This is the second reunion dinner that dad in law is missing. Dad in law passed away on 2nd October 2004. I recalled that dad in law would always had his special “Mee Hoon Soup” specially prepared for him only. Mum in law would never fail to cook a special bowl for him.

With dad in law missing, the special “Mee Hoon Soup” is also not prepared.

My late mother would never miss her special “yam cake” for Chinese New Year. When she passed away on 18th June 2000, the special “yam cake” is no longer on our reunion dinner table.

Though life is to be lived forward, looking back will always give us many fond memories of the loved ones missing from the table, and those special food missing from the dinner menu.

Looking back, we remember the courage and the love of our loved ones. These loved ones will never come back to us. But, we shall go to them! One day, we shall feast together at Jesus’ feet. Then, it will be more than the “Mee Hoon Soup” and the “yam cake”.

I cooked ten perfect dishes plus another one for the reunion dinner. Fried prawns – the favourite of Rach. Fried noodles – the favourite of Chris. Drunken chicken – the favourtie of the significant half… The eggs of peace – I like best. I have yet to find out the favourite of mum in law…. A long way to go to be a better daughter-in-law …..

Have a look at the photographs. Though not the best, it’s the thoughts that matters, and it’s labour of love!

Posted in Soul Bond. Comments Off on Missing From the Reunion Dinner Table

Pre-CNY musings

My colleague, a young writer for my Chinese newspaper, knocked at my door this morning. He wants to interview me!

Huh? I interview people, not to be interviewed, I strongly protested. But, he was persistent. He wanted me to talk something about Valentine Day from a mature wise woman’s point of view. Well, mature is just another substitute for “elder”. “Wise” sounds a lot better, but it’s still another way to tell you that you are “growing old”, but wisely.

Despite all the sweet words, I did not accept the interview. We ended up sharing on the subject of love for the “older couple”.

Love for the older couple, perhaps, is intimacy of another kind – physical, still yes, but increasingly spiritual as well. I like this poem by Archibald MacLeish very much –

They have only to look at each other to laugh
No one know why, not even they;
Something back in the lives they’ve lived,
Something they both remember but no words can say.
They go off at an evening’s end to talk
But they don’t, or to sleep but they lie awake
Hardly a word, just a touch, just near
Just listening but not to hear.

Everything they know they know together –
Everything that is, but one:
Their lives they’ve learnt like secrets from each other;
Their deaths they think of in the nights alone.

My young writer left, disappointed that despite his sweet words I turned him down, but I know, he has learnt – everything an old couple know they know together, everything that is, but one: their lives they’ve learnt like secrets from each other…

Dear friends and visitors, this is probably the last post for the lunar year. Tomorrow, I shall be that woman in the kitchen. Cooking for 21 people, young and old, sure needs a lot of love plus hard work, and most of all kitchen management! Yeah, the kitchen is mine tomorrow.

Enjoy your reunion dinner, a blessed new year, to you and your family.

Baking the Stress Away


I thought I am not going to do any baking this Chinese New Year. I have been feeling exceptionally tired after a day’s work. I have been hoping that I have more time to sleep.

As the clock clicks away, I know I can’t go without that cheese cake my friends have been looking forward. I can’t ignore the hintings of Rach and Chris of the chocolate cake.

So, I baked three cheese cakes and steamed one chocolate cake this evening.

Now, almost 11 pm, I am still up to tell you how great the rewards are. It is very easy to buy cakes from a store, but nothing gives you the feeling of peace and satisfaction and deep pleasure for baking your own.

Baking is as easy as ABC, but just remember some rules –

All ingredients are like children or ladies, handle them with care.

Always follow the same direction. If you are stiring the ingredients clockwise, keep it clockwise throughout. Don’t mess them. They like tidiness and like to be in order.

All ingredients, unless specified, should be at room temperature before you start. For making pie crust, you need to have chilled butter, so there is one exception.

Oven must be preheated to the specified temperature. If space allows, and within budget, buy a reasonably big oven. Size does matter.

Size of baking pan does matter too. Stick to the recipe instruction.

Experience the joy of mixing, beating, waiting and the fresh aroma of cake wafting from the oven. O the blessed charm of simple things! You won’t be disappointed.

It does get my stress out, today.

Sally

I met Sally few years ago in Kuching. She is a Singaporean lawyer turned educationist. She is a special lady. What makes her special as a Singaporean is she has 6 children. Yes, six, you do not read wrongly.

No doubt, Sally is also a very capable woman. She is able to use time and resources wisely and effectively between family, career and on her missions with God.

Sally answered to my wide-open eyes of her number of children. She said before she had her first child, she had many miscarriages. God heals her and she has one child after anther until she has six, not counting anymore. Her youngest should be 11 or 12. I guess she is ready to count her grandchildren soon. The eldest one is working as a journalist!

She shared that every difficulty we have dealt in life, every disappointment or weakness ends up working to our advantage. When we are weak, we are strong. She said because of what she went through before having the first child, she found that when she prayed for barren women, it is very powerful and fruitful.

It took me quite a while to understand how it makes sense. But, I know because of what I have gone through, I am very sensitive to women who have fertility problems. I have emotional connection with them. Not only that, what Apostle Paul tells us in Phil 4:6 makes sense!

Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made know to God. (Phil 4:6)

Last night, an ex-colleague who has been married for ten years and childless called and delivered a gift to my house. She is pregnant and due to deliver her first child on the 7th day of Chinese New Year. She said she could never thank me enough for my encouragement and support.

I claim no credit. The story of Sally has been a great blessing to my own heart. I learn to bring my problems to the Lord in prayer.

The Man In The Mirror

Finally, it’s done! Yes, the bathroom attached to Rachel’s room and our room. It has been almost a month of dust, drill, hitting and knocking.

It’s a new look. From tiles to choice of bathroom accessories, my significant other handles all. I have been busy with work, trips outstation and church works. I appreciate it very much.

I also have a new understanding of my significant other. The bathroom is more important to him than it is to me. It means he spends more time in the bathroom. It also means he has more properties kept in the bathroom. So everything chosen are to his “fancies” and for his convenience.

My properties in the bathroom is the bare minimum, a tooth brush, a facial cleanser, shampoo. That’s it. Tooth paste and soap are shared. And his? I took a rough stock last night –

A toooth brush, shampoo (he has his own) and conditioner (one more item more than mine), soap (two types, one is detol), facial cleanser, toner, facial scrub, facial whitening cream, body scrub, hair gel, hair mouse, comb, luxurious bath towels, some magazines stuffed in a basket hung on the wall.

Yes, a mirror. I did not even notice two days ago that there was no mirror in the bathroom. I remarked that it’s nice, good taste. He said something still missing. I said, something else? All in the place already. He said, “No Mirror yet.” I said I never use the mirror in the bathroom.

I remember a famous writer (could be Liu Yong?) said that to maintain a good marriage relationship, it is important to leave a little space for each other, that is to let the spouse have some privacy. And such little space could be a seperate bathroom.

It is a new understanding of our relationship. Perhaps, because I spend so little time in the bathroom that he seems to own the whole bathroom by himself. He certainly has all the privacy!
He has a mirror in place last night. I saw him appreciating his “creation” with Chris in the bathroom looking into the mirror. I thought I heard him saying, “It’s good!”

I have a re-look at my study room. When can I have it re-done too? I know I have to take down the few books authored by Patrick Morley. Why? Because even reading “Man in the mirror”, “Seven Seasons for the Man in the Mirror”, “Understanding Your Men in the Mirror”, “Ten Secrets for the Man in the Mirror”, I do not gain much.

The Man In The Mirror is happiest in the bathroom, in his own privacy!